Oglala Sioux Tribe, Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, Pine Ridge, South Dakota

Initial Funding:

October, 1999


The vision for the Nagi Kicopi Project (Calling the Spirit Back) focuses on the healing of the spirit of children with serious emotional needs and their families by creating a holistic circle of comprehensive Lakota and clinical approaches; helping children with serious emotional needs and their families overcome the effects of historical trauma and cultural oppression; and helping children with serious emotional needs and their families reclaim their Lakota identity through lakol wicohan (language, values, beliefs and ceremonies of the Lakota people). The overall goal for the Nagi Kicopi Project is to structure an integrated system of care within 5 years that efficiently delivers comprehensive mental health services to Lakota children, adolescents, and families experiencing serious emotional disturbance. The Nagi Kicopi project builds on the strengths of Lakota culture and social organization through a healing process for children and families. According to respondents the Nagi Kicopi project brings traditional healers, families, children, and service providers together to provide wraparound services in a healing milieu facilitated by Lakota traditional healers.


The catchment area and target population is the entire Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. According to respondents approximately 42,357 individuals are listed on the official tribal membership roll. Of this number 15,735 are children under 16 years of age. The Oglala Sioux Lakota tribe is located on the 5500 square mile reservation in southwestern South Dakota with the Nagi Kicopi Project offices located in Porcupine, South Dakota. The Lakota Tribe continues to face numerous economic and social challenges, and respondents reported that Shannon County is one of the poorest counties in the United States. Pine Ridge Indian Reservation covers three counties—Shannon, Jackson, and Bennett which are very rural and isolated areas with very limited resources for children and families. Shannon County, which is the largest of the three, is mostly rural including a large area of mountains and farmland with limited access through narrow winding roads. The nearest access to a more urban area for families and children is 2 hours away in Rapid City, South Dakota. Specific criteria for enrollment into the program include the following: American Indian children between birth and 22 years of age who live on the reservation; children and youth with an emotional need fitting a Lakota diagnostic category, transferred to a DSM–IV diagnosis; children and youth with a 6-month history of symptoms of serious emotional disturbance that will likely continue for at least 1 year; conditions that significantly interfere with the ability to function at home, school, or in the community; and involvement with two or more child-serving agencies. The Nagi Kicopi project has had 245 referrals and served a total of 104 children with 101 of those children currently receiving services. 33 new children and families were enrolled over 2004.



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